NEW YORK (NYTIMES) – Interracial couples. A guide dog for blind people. A person using a wheelchair.
These were among the new emojis announced this week by the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit that provides standards for text on the internet and oversees emojis.
The list – which includes 59 new emojis, as well as variants for a total of 230 options – emphasises inclusivity.
People will soon be able to create a “holding hands” emoji to reflect their own relationship, selecting for the skin colour and gender identity of each individual. Other options include emojis showing a hearing aid, prosthetic limbs, sign language, a cane or a wheelchair.
A host of other new symbols include an otter, a sloth, a waffle, falafel, a yawning face, a white heart, a sari and a contentious one-piece bathing suit.
In a world where people use emojis to represent everything from weddings to poop, the announcement naturally led to much discussion, with an image of a drop of blood becoming a new way to talk about menstruation and a pinching symbol leading to jokes about a certain male body part being very, very small.
The Unicode Consortium sets the standards for emoji compatibility, allowing the symbols to translate across the Internet.
Then companies like Apple and Google have to design emojis and incorporate the code into their operating systems, said Greg Welch, a board member for Unicode. New emojis typically come to mobile phones in September or October, Unicode said.
The latest update continues a trend toward greater emoji diversity, which began in earnest a few years ago when a range of skin tones was introduced. In 2017, Apple introduced a hijab emoji.
“You see people are asking for curly hair or skin tone and bald and hijab,” said Jennifer Lee, who serves on Unicode’s emoji subcommittee and helped found Emojination, a grass-roots effort to make emojis more inclusive.
“In many ways it’s because people are trying to say the word ‘I,'” said Lee. “They are trying to represent themselves in emojiland.”
Tinder, the online dating app, had campaigned for Unicode to better represent couples of different races and genders.
“Love is universal,” Tinder said on its website. “And it’s time for interracial couples to be represented in our universal language.”
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